Florida Ruffin Ridley School

The Florida Ruffin Ridley School design evolved from complex educational, historical, community, and site demands. This expanded K-8 neighborhood school deftly integrates a historic building with a modern educational program and is distinguished as one of the most energy efficient public schools in the Commonwealth.


Brookline, MA

Size (new)

202,900 sf

Size (renovation)

24,200 sf







Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

33.3 kBTU/sf/yr

Water Use Reduction

33% from baseline code

Sited behind the historic Devotion House and a public courtyard, the oldest portion of the school was constructed in 1913 with two additions from the 1950s and 70s. HMFH’s design includes renovations to the 1913 building, and the addition of two new wings that allow grade levels to be grouped together and function as self-contained learning communities.

Because most students walk to this neighborhood school and approach from several abutting residential streets, the school is designed to be an inviting place that functions as the heart of the community. Three main entrances converge on a double-height atrium and central stair that provides easy access to core spaces including the gym, cafeteria commons, multi-purpose room and media center. Framing the courtyard and the 1913 building, two academic wings house three academic self-contained learning communities for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. With outdoor classrooms, a rain garden, school gardens, and natural play elements, the school’s site is an integral component of the learning environment.

“Thank you for designing such thoughtful, beautiful, and inviting spaces for us!”

Jennifer Buller | Former Principal, Florida Ruffin Ridley School

A variety of academic spaces support education that is accessible to all by catering to a wide range of learning styles. Classrooms are equipped with flexible furnishings and built-in cabinetry that doubles as whiteboard space to meet the needs of each lesson, while specialty classrooms offer unique learning opportunities that were not previously available.

The natural environment is woven into the learning environment through views, daylighting, and access to the outdoors. A central courtyard and outdoor amphitheater connect students to the surrounding environment and provide opportunity for outdoor learning. Within the school, daylighting strategies reduce energy consumption and natural light is maximized through the use of multi-story lightwells, skylights, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

  • Grand Prize, Spaces4Learning Education Design Showcase, 2020
  • Copper in Architecture Award, Copper Development Association, 2019
  • Citation, American School & University Architectural Portfolio, 2019
  • Section Award for Energy Efficiency, IES Illumination Awards, 2019
  • Photography, Ed Wonsek